The Complicated Minefield Of Tackling Childhood Obesity

Without data childhood obesity will never be completely understood.

Children would have their height and weight measured every two years under a new proposal to tackle Australia's childhood obesity problem.

The proposal was made by the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) at Deakin University to a Senate committee tasked with assessing the problem obesity in Australia and collecting data to so professionals are able to tackle the issue.

A report released on November 2017 showed that one quarter of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. More specifically, 1 in 4 (27 percent) children and adolescents aged 5–17 were overweight or obese -- 20 percent were overweight but not obese, and seven percent were obese.

GLOBE believes that the new proposal will help target areas where there are high rates of obesity by collecting data so professionals are able to understand the extent of the issue.

“We underestimate the true prevalence of the issue because we don’t have a routine measure and we don’t have the data and the issue is bigger than what we realise,” Director of GLOBE Steven Allender told ten daily.

Clinical Director at the Black Dog Institute Josephine Anderson told ten daily measuring a primary school child’s weight and height shouldn’t impact negatively on their mental health as long as the tests are conducted in a way that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s not bad for their mental health if it’s done every few years,” Anderson said.

Anderson also said ensuring the tests are confidential is key to the system’s success.

Test results should be give to children to prevent comparisons. Image: Getty Images.

Tests would be conducted every two years and done by trained professionals. Children would not receive the results directly and parents would have the option to opt-out.

Nobody is being forced to do anything and if a parent or child doesn't want to participate then that is up to them," Allender said.

Allender said that parent’s concerns about their child’s weight and health will be addressed when data is collected as the issue will be better understood.

Teens Forced On Diets By Parents More likely To Have Food Problems

This proposal follows a recent study that found teenagers who were forced onto food plans and diets by parents were more likely to have problems with food later in life.

The study looked at over 500 teenagers who had been encouraged by their parents to go on a diet struggled to control their intake as adults.

Teenagers forced to diet have trouble controlling food habits later in life. Image: Getty Images

“They [the researchers] followed teenagers who had been encouraged to diet, 15 years later and found that they were more likely to be overweight, to be dieting, binge-eating, and have lower body satisfaction,” Dr. Susan Albers from the Cleveland Clinic told CBS News.

Albers said dieting among teenagers encourages a negative relationship with food, which can lead them to develop unhealthy habits around eating. She said that developing how a teenager eats, not what,  is the key to nurturing a young person's positive experience with food.

“It’s so important to give teens these skills at this juncture in their life and I talk to parents about tools, not rules,” Dr. Albers added.